Two Greek music masters, Petroloukas Halkias and Vasilis
Kostas, representing different generations, present a captivating musical exchange
on The Soul of Epirus. The album features a set of instrumental duos,
highlighting the interaction between the clarinet and the lauto (8-string,
fretted Greek lute).
The focus is the music of Epirus, a region in northwestern Greece. Petroloukas Halkias met Vasilis in Boston in November 2015 during the annual Greek dance event organized by the Epirotic Society of Worcester. “I had never met him before despite the fact that we both come from the region of Pogoni in Epirus, Greece,” says clarinetist Petroloukas Halkias. “The moment I heard him playing “Skaros”, using the exact same phrasing I use when playing, I realized that this kid could achieve great things.”
The two musicians started performing together and Vasilis Kostas adapted various instrumental pieces to play them the same way Kalkias plays them, adapted to the lauto.
“Vasilis and I created something that will be left as a legacy to the young musicians,” says Petroloukas Halkias. “We, as musicians, entered a chaos that never ends. However, each new generation can have its own small contribution to whatever the previous generation created, the same way my generation did.”
Vasilis Kostas is a much-admired lauto (Greek lute) player
from Epirus, Greece. He is part of the ‘Global Messengers’, the ensemble of
Grammy Award-winning pianist and UNESCO Artist for Peace Danilo Perez. Kostas has
performed at Carnegie Hall, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Panama Jazz
Festival, and world music conference WOMEX in Poland.
His style on the lauto is based on studying Petroloukas
Halkias’s clarinet lines and philosophy on his instrument as well as finding
ways to merge jazz improvisation tools with the elements of his musical roots.
Vasilis obtained his degree in Philosophy and Pedagogy at
the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece and a diploma at the Berklee
College of Music.
Later, he graduated from the Masters program of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston where he studied on a full scholarship.
Vasilis Kostas resides and works in Boston, and travels
internationally and throughout the United Stated to present Greek music.
Petroloukas Halkias is a living legend of the clarinet and one of the most important representatives of Greek traditional music at the present time. He was born in the village Delvinaki in Pogoni, Epirus where he began learning music from a young age next to the maestros of the Epirotic clarinet; Phillipas Rountas and Kitsos Harisiadis.
His father, Periklis, went to the United States of America before World War II and gained great popularity as a clarinetist. In 1960, Petroloukas Halkias emigrated to the United States where he lived for 20 years, disseminatign the musical heritage of Epirus and performing with numerous different groups.
One of the highpoints of his stay in the United States was the invitation to perform a concert at the White House.
He returned to Greece in the 1980s when he started recording albums that achieved great success in Greece and abroad.
Petroloukas Halkias remains a basis of inspiration for the young generation of musicians.
Of Irish descent, born in England, Ross Daly traveled as a child with his family around the world and soon his deep interest in music emerged. His first instrument was the cello, which he studied in his childhood years in America. He later began studying the classical guitar in Japan at the age of eleven.
The late 1960s found him in San Francisco, where having experienced both the classical discipline and the air of freedom and experimentation of the time, he first encountered Eastern musical tradition which completely changed his life. Of particular interest to him was Indian Classical music which was destined to be the first non-western tradition that he actively studied. The following years found him traveling extensively studying a variety of instruments and traditions. At that time his main emphasis was on Indian and Afghani music.
In 1975 he traveled to Crete which he had previously visited for a short time in 1970 and 1972 where he had been greatly impressed by the lyra (a small pear-shaped upright fiddle which is the primary folk instrument of the island). After a six month period of wandering from village to village encountering local musicians, he settled in the town of Hania on the west of the island and began studying the Cretan lyra with its great master Kostas Mountakis.
This apprenticeship was to last for many years. During this same time he frequently visited in Turkey where he studied Ottoman classical music as well as Turkish folk music. After many years of intensive training in a variety of musical traditions, Ross Daly turned his attention largely to composition drawing heavily on the various sources that he had studied.
Daly has released many recordings of his own compositions as well as of his own versions of traditional melodies that he collected during his travels. The island of Crete in Greece still provides a base for his personal and musical research as he travels around the world performing his music.
A virtuoso of Eastern musical instruments, he plays the Cretan lyra, Afghan rabab, lauto, kemence, sarangi, ud, saz and tanbur. A unique composer, Ross Daly, builds his compositions around the subtle but powerful interaction between the sound textures of the various traditions which he has studied.
In recent years, Daly has been performing and recording with composer and Cretan lyra master Kelly Thoma.
Ονείρου Τόποι – Oneirou Topi (AEME, 1982) Lavyrinthos (AEME, 1984) Ross Daly (1986) Anadysi (1987) Elefthero Simio (1989) 7 songs and 1 Semai, with Spyridoula Toutoudaki (RCA, 1989) Kriti 1, with Manolis Manassakis (RCA, 1989) Pnoe, with Vassilis Soukas (1990) Hori (1990) The Circle at the Crossroads (1990) Kriti 2, with Babis Chairetis aka “Vourgias” Selected Works (Oriente Musik, 1991) An Ki, with Djamchid Chemirani (RCA, 1991) Mıtos (Network Medien, 1992) Cross Current, with Djamchid Chemirani & Irshad Khan (1994) Naghma, with Paul Grant, Bijan Chemirani & Nayan Ghosh (1998) At The Cafe Aman (Network Medien, 1998) Synavgia (1998) Beyond The Horizon (2001) Gulistan, with Bijan Chemirani (L’Empreinte Digitale, 2001) Kin Kin (Music Box, 2002) Music Of Crete (FM Records, 2002) Iris (Protasis, 2003) Mıcrokosmos (L’Empreinte Digitale, 2003) Echo Of Time (2004) Spyrıdoula Toutoudaki – Ross Daly / Me Ti Fevga Tou Kerou (2004) Live At Theatre De La Vılle / Avec Le Trio Chemıranı (2005) White Dragon (2008) The Other Side (2014) Tin Anixi Perimenes, with Vassilis Stavrakakis, Giorgos Manolakis (2015) Osi Hara’Houn ta Poulia, with Evgenia Damavoliti-Toli (2016) Lunar, with Kelly Thoma (2017)
Savina Yanatou was born on March 16, 1959 in Athens, Greece. She studied song with G. Georgilopoulou at the National Conservatory and with S. Sakkas at the “Workshop of Vocal Art”, in Athens. She attended postgraduate studies (Performance and Communication Skills) at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, with a scholarship awarded by the Mousigetis Foundation.
Her professional career as a singer started while still a student, when she sang for the very successful and until today highly respected daily program of the Greek National Radio 3 Lillipoupoli under the direction of the famous composer Manos Hadjidakis.
After that, she performed entechno (artful) Greek songs, collaborating with well-known Greek composers and also covered contemporary opera and music. Later, she focused on medieval, renaissance and Baroque music.
In the early nineties she started experimenting with different vocal techniques in free improvisation. Parallel to that, she started a collaboration with a number of Thessaloniki-based musicians, who at that occasion founded the group Primavera en Salonico, under the direction of Kostas Vomvolos.
With Primavera en Salonico, Savina recorded – and later performed – “Primavera en Salonico”-Sephardic Folk Songs from Salonica-, “Songs from the Mediterranean” , the “Virgin Maries of the World” and “Terra Nostra” (all released by Lyra-Musurgia Graeca). The “Virgin Maries of the World” was released in the USA by Sounds True under the name Mediterranea. ECM released Terra Nostra.
Savina Yannatou has also composed her own music and songs (a.o. “Rosa das Rosas” and “Dreams of the mermaid” both released by Musurgia Graeca), as well as music for theater (Medea, performed in 1997 by the National Greek Theatre), video art and dance theater. She has released and/or participated in numerous albums.
Savina has also been involved with theater and dance as a co-producer and singer-actor in dance-theater plays that include traditional songs, myths and fairy tales of the Mediterranean.
Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico have been giving concerts all over the world since 1996. This includes the whole of Europe, the United States, Israel and Taiwan, at some of the most prestigious venues.
Σαμποτάζ – Sabotage (Lyra, 1981) ’62 (Lyra, 1983) Η Ηχώ Και Τα Λάθη Της – The Echo And The Mistakes (Sirius, 1985) Οδυσσέας Στο Ποτάμι – Ulysses In The River (Sirius, 1985) Ζει Ο Βασιλιάς Αλέξανδρος; – Is King Alexander Living? (Lyra, 1986) Μίλα Μου Για Μήλα – Talk to Me Apples (Sirius, 1986) Νέα Εκδρομή – New Excursion (Lyra, 1986) Μαρία Ντολόρες Παρελθόν (Sirius, 1990) Ερωτική Πρόβα – Erotic Rehearsal (Columbia, 1991) Spring In Thessaloniki (Folk Songs) – Primavera En Salonico (Lyra, 1994) Masko (Chmantpon, 1994) Anapnoes – Breath (Lyra, 1997) Virgin Maries of the World (Lyra, 1999) Mediterranea: Songs of the Mediterranean (Sounds True, 2000) Pao Na Po Sto Sinefo (Kinesis Inc., 2002) Terra Nostra (Lyra, 2003) Rosa das Rosas (Lyra, 2003) Traditional Lullabies (Nanourismata, 2003) Sumiglia (Lyra, 2005) Tutti Baci (EGE / Warner Music, 2006) Songs of an Other (ECM, 2008) Songs of Thessaloniki (ECM, 2015)
Andreas Arnold is a US-based, jazz-trained German guitarist who fell in love with flamenco and spent some time in southern Spain immersed in flamenco culture. Odisea is his third release and it is deeply influenced by flamenco guitar and Mediterranean music. Unlike other non-Spanish guitarists who play easy listening flamenco rumbas, Arnold plays the real stuff: soleas, tangos and other forms.
Odisea is a melting pot of musical ideas and cross-pollination. Andreas Arnold incorporates jazz, flamenco, Greek and other world music influences. This project showcases a skilled trio format that includes Arnold on guitars, Greek musician Petros Klampanis on acoustic bass and Japanese percussionist Miguel Hiroshi, who was raised in Granada, Spain.
“I think this album is sort of a homecoming for me,” says Arnold about Odisea. “Back to a looser and improvised approach, while incorporating many things that I’ve learned during my travels across the vast seas of flamenco. Back to jazz elements, even back to classical elements that are rooted in my childhood.”
The recordings took place in Brooklyn (New York) and also in Cadiz and Madrid (Spain) and feature additional guests who provide additional authenticity to the flamenco side of the album. Guests include Carlos Ronda on cajon and palmas (flamenco handclap percussion); Cristian Soto on vocals; David Enhco on trumpet; Guy Mintus on piano and melodica; Jeremy Smith on percussion; Juan Carmona on percussion and palmas; Lucas Carmona on palmas; Maria Manousaki on violin; Ricardo Piñero on electric bass and palmas; and Rocio Parilla on vocals and palmas.
Odisea is a remarkable journey through the spirited sounds of western Mediterranean flamenco, eastern Mediterranean Cretan and Greek music and contemporary jazz.
Part and parcel to the group Labyrinth, as well as the Labyrinth Musical Project, member of the Ross Daly Quartet and the Tokso Folk String Quartet, Greek musician and composer Kelly Thoma has added a new recording to her two previous solo works Anamkhara and 7Fish. Music fans looking to dip into the riches of Greece will revel in the musical landscape of As The Winds Die Down.
In addition to composing the
music for As The Winds Die Down, Ms. Thoma regales listeners with her
incomparable lyra playing. Joined by singer Vassilis Stavrakakis, lauto player
and singer Giorgis Manolakis, percussionist Giannis Papatzanis and
percussionist, saz and tarhu player Ross Daly, Ms. Thoma conjures up a vibrant
The music of As The Winds
Die Down is tapestry of elegant lyra lines, rich percussion and dazzling runs
of lauto. Alive with dizzily swirling tracks like opening track “As The Winds
Die Down,” “Kotylies of Armanogeia” and “Madness and Reason” with slower
elegant tracks like “Rain,” “The Tree’s Song” and “Your Dark Side” As The Winds
Die Down shimmers and glows with talents of these musicians.
As The Winds Die Down is equal parts electrifying and poignant. The only unfortunate aspect is that some naughty person provided no translations of the song lyrics other than just the titles. Certainly, there must be some kind of story behind a track titled “Madness and Reason” or “Your Dark Side.” Without a press release or any sort of explanation why this music is meaningful or what the songs are about I’m afraid As The Winds Die Down tells only half the story in its current form.
Kelly Thoma, one of the finest performers of the Cretan lyra has a new album titled Ama kopasoun oi kairoi (As the winds die down).
Ama kopasoun oi kairoi includes original songs by Kelly Thoma featuring two of Crete’s most renowned singers, Vassilis Stavrakakis and Giorgis Manolakis. Lyrics by Mitsos Stavarkakis, Giorgos Dagalakis, Nikolaos Andreadakis and Kelly Thoma.
The musicians on the album include on Κelly Thoma on lyra, percussion; Vassilis Stavrakakis on vocals; Giorgis Manolakis on lauto, vocals; Giannis Papatzanis on percussion; Ross Daly on saz, percussion, tarhu.
Canadian artist George Sapounidis, better known as Chairman George, has a new album titled Bringing to Greek Party to China! It’s a ground-breaking recording that combines traditional Greek and Chinese music, Mandarin Chinese vocals, rock and infectious electronic dance grooves.
In terms of musical instruments, Bringing to Greek Party to China! connects Greek bouzouki and Chinese pipa and guzheng. The music video for the irresistible song “Golden Night” is fascinating and a lot of fun to watch.
Chairman George talked to World Music Central in September 2018 about his background and Bringing to Greek Party to China.
Can you give our readers a brief history on how you started singing and composing music?
I began taking guitar lessons in Montreal in 1968 and learning folksongs by different artists from the Joan Baez Songbook. Then when we moved to Greece in 1970 my mother found me a classical guitar teacher in Athens (a Greek protégé of the Spanish virtuoso Andrés Segovia no less) and in my teens I continued to take lessons and perform classical repertoire. At the same time since we were living a bohemian lifestyle in Greece I was meeting troubadours and buskers on the Greek islands which further inspired me to sing and perform publicly.
In university in Montreal and later in Toronto I met singers from different cultures so I began singing in Hebrew, Russian and Spanish. I took a delight in singing multilingually. In the 1980’s when the famine in Ethiopia happened I wrote a song and discovered a joy and ability in songwriting.
In 1988 I began learning the Greek bouzouki after listening and feeling impassioned by the Greek blues the Rembetika. I travelled to Greece with a musical partner and we started my first band Ouzo Power which performed at Canadian music festivals.
In the 1990’s, after finishing my PhD in statistics in Toronto and working as a folksinger extensively in Greektown, I returned to Ottawa where I had a day job in the federal government and I met a woman from Beijing who inspired me to learn to sing a traditional folksong in Mandarin Chinese. This was followed by challenging myself to write songs in Chinese. This is when my music career took a radical new direction towards Asia.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
The essential elements of my music consist of sung vocals in different languages, translation of lyrics, and proficiency on the Greek bouzouki and acoustic guitar. This includes the incorporation of an eclectic array of cross cultural musical styles. I engage audiences on stage using humor while unraveling some of the mysteries of Greek and Chinese culture and language through music.
Whom can you cite as your main musical influences?
Theodore Bikel, David Wilcox, Danny Michel.
Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.
My first full album on cassette consisted of duo interpretations of Greek Rembetika with the use of mandolin instead of bouzouki and translating Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin into Greek. The second EP consisted of standard Greek popular repertoire using larger ensembles incorporating African Senegalese rhythms. I then began dabbling in different languages and made a demo recording of songs in Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, Chinese and Greek.
When I performed my first Chinese song at the local Chinese New Year Gala in 1998 the roof fell in when the audience was applauding every 15 seconds. I realized I had discovered a vast new audience, endless musical possibilities within a new culture and my innate facility with languages.
In 2000, I gave my first major concert in Greek and Chinese in Ottawa where I invited the Greek and Chinese Embassies. Subsequently, I received an invitation from the Chinese Embassy to travel to China to perform at two international festivals. It was at this point that my music career took a radical new direction towards Asia.
My 2005 album consisted of exclusively Greek and Chinese traditional, popular and original material followed by my 2008 album of Olympic themed songs and then my 2011 CD of experimental rock-infused Greek repertoire. The culmination of my Greek and Chinese influenced musical arc has culminated in the present album where we have fused both cultures by presenting re- worked standard Greek repertoire in Mandarin.
What musical instruments do you use?
I use the Greek bouzouki and acoustic guitar myself. In my band we also have Chinese pipa and guzheng as well as bass, electric guitar, drums and backup vocals.
Your new album features Chinese musicians, electronic dance music beats, Chinese vocals and Greek influences. How did you come up with this combination?
After many years performing Greek and Chinese repertoire side by side my producer Ross Murray and I decided in 2013 to go to the next step: a fusion of both. This had never been done. We chose 10 of the most well-known quintessential up tempo Greek popular songs with the intent of presenting Greek party songs to Chinese audiences, hence the album title.
I started translating these songs into Mandarin with the help of a translator while at the same time ensuring equal numbers of syllables in lines and incorporating rhyming. I developed bilingual vocals for these translated lyrics. We brought in Chinese instrumentalists we knew locally and my producer who is a recording engineer infused some of the renditions with electronic dance music beats.
What has been the reaction so far?
Chinese audiences in China are very surprised and interested in hearing Greek songs in Chinese. Greek people are astonished at hearing their own songs recreated in what seems to them to be an incomprehensible language. Greeks are proud to know that their music is being promoted in a vast new environment.
How did you meet the Chinese musicians?
I met the Chinese musicians in my home town of Ottawa, Canada. I already knew them well after years of performing in the local Chinese community.
You sing in Chinese, is it Mandarin? Do you speak Chinese or is it phonetic singing?
Yes I sing in Mandarin Chinese. I speak in Mandarin Chinese and comprehend fully all lyrics that I sing.
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?
I would like to collaborate with English rock musician Peter Gabriel whom I have not met – however, more realistically I would like to collaborate with English rock musician and multi Grammy award winner Chris Birkett whom I have met.
What would the ideal Sunday look like?
Being on a quiet Greek island having a good swim in the sun all day with friends followed by Greek dinner in a taverna while listening to live Greek music performed by local musicians.
What would you like to learn?
I would like to learn how to cook properly in a Cordon Bleu school.
What is your favorite food?
Greek cuisine followed by Thai cuisine.
Favorite movie or movie genre?
If you weren’t a musician, what would you have become?
I would become what I in fact I already am: a mathematician with a PhD.
Your greatest triumph?
Being the subject of the award-winning W5 CTV / BBC international television documentary ‘Chairman George’ produced by EyeSteelFilm in Canada and directed by Daniel Cross a fellow Montrealer whom I met by chance on the other side of the world in China.
What do you like to do during your free time?
Swim laps and then meet friends for a home cooked meal.
What country would you like to visit?
Do you have any other upcoming projects to share with us?
We are creating new interpretations of Canadian popular and traditional repertoire in Chinese.
George From Athens To Beijing (2005)
Expect The World (2008)
Ouzo Power Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (2010)
Golden Night (2014)
Bringing to Greek Party to China! (2018)
A journey during which the rich eastern Mediterranean traditions and western music elements blend and compose colorful soundscapes using music as their common language. The ensemble creates and performs music with respect to the character of the modal music cultures.
In 2015 Lingua Franca Ensemble was selected among several ensembles from all corners of the world, to participate in the Sharq Taronalari festival/contest held in Uzbekistan, representing Cyprus, Greece and Germany. The committee of the competition awarded Lingua Franca Ensemble with the Soul of Devotees Special Award.
In May 2016 Lingua Franca Ensemble was invited by TedX University of Piraeus (Athens, Greece) in order to present the idea behind the formation of the ensemble as well as to perform live part of the album Ephemera.
Lingua Franca Ensemble is actively involved in music education. Both as an ensemble and as individuals, they conduct workshops and seminars on their field of expertise. All the members of the ensemble are graduates of the Codarts University of the Arts, Rotterdam.
Michalis Cholevas and Michalis Kouloumis are regular teachers of the World Music Department of CODARTS, having as main subject Modal Music of the Eastern Mediterranean cultures.
The album Ephemera is a collection of original compositions that came to life when Giannis, Michalis and Michalis met in Cyprus and formed the Lingua Franca Ensemble. Ruven joined soon after.
The 2018 lineup: Michalis Cholevas on yayli tanbur, tarhu, ney; Michalis Kouloumis on violin; Giannis Koutis on oud, guitar, voice; and Ruven Ruppik on riq, darbuka, frame drums, marimba.
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion